Review: Leopold FC660C

I appear to cross paths with Leopold products frequently.  I’ve had a FC210TP numpad for a while, I’ve reviewed the FC750R and loved it, and here I am in the Topre life with a FC660C.  There’s a decent chance I’ll be in for an FC980M/C at some point as well, since that old Cherry G80 layout is possibly an end-game work layout for me.

Luckily, Leopold is a pretty damn good brand, and the FC660C is honestly the pinnacle of that goodness.

THE BOARD

img_20161208_105900
FC660C, modded with Novatouch stems and Hypersphere rings, with blank black PBT caps from a FC660M, and a red ESC from Elitekeyboards.com

It shouldn’t surprise anybody that a Leopold board feels sturdy and well-made.  The FC660C is no exception.  Despite it’s demure size, I’m rather sure I could beat someone to death with this board.  I would never do such a thing (murder, nor ruin a wonderful keyboard), but the point stands.  Solid plastic shell (and I love the texture on it; resists fingerprints), sturdy flip-out feet, well-placed and quality rubber pads to keep the board in place.  All what you would expect, and it coalesces into a very substantial-feeling piece of hardware.

The DIP switches are of typical fare; Ctrl/CapsLock swap, Win/LAlt swap, Win/Fn swap, Lockout Win key.  It would have been nice to have had some more typical DIP switch functionality (or heaven forbid, full customization, but I digress), but what’s there is the necessary stuff, which is fine.

The keycaps, like most Topre boards, are phenomenal.  The font is readable and inoffensive, the PBT is smooth with the slightest bit of texture, and the dye-sublimated legends are pristine.  Really hard to ask much more.  Of course, I’ve Novatouched and silenced this board, so those Topre caps are now in a bag.  Great caps though.

img_20161208_105843-1

 

The overall feel is excellent.  Sort of a sturdier version of the HHKB, which is to be expected considering the boards being very similar, save for the difference in case-vs-plate mounting.  Long typing sessions are easy and enjoyable, and that’s a testament to not just the Topre mechanism but also the quality of this board.

The layout is the main reason one would be curious in the FC660C, though.  Many would say the HHKB has the better overall typing feel, and I actually agree (though I do feel the difference is very small, at least to me).  However, those all-important arrow keys are present on the FC660C, and they are a major reason I purchased this board.  If a dedicated arrow cluster means nothing to you, then by all means get the HHKB.  I use them far too much to relegate them to the function layer, and that’s my personal taste.

Overall the layout is rather fantastic, though.  Fn+Arrows give you PgUp/PgDn/Home/End, which seems so obvious it should be a part of every keyboard ever.  While a dedicated Insert key seems like a rather niche feature, I can’t say a dedicated Delete isn’t welcome.  The other function layer keys are in the same positions as the HHKB which is fine because those were good positions anyways.

One complaint is a common one with 60-70% keyboards; the Esc “thing.”  Most manufacturers put the tilde key on the function layer, under Esc.  However, they also allow Shift+Esc to yield a tilde as well; this annoys me greatly, because it then prevents the use of the Ctrl+Shift+Esc Windows shortcut (which opens Task Manager, and that’s very useful).  Not a huge problem (especially in Windows 8/10, where Win+X brings up that awesome poweruser menu), but it’s a consistent annoyance that isn’t unique to this keyboard or Leopold.

Another is the lack of volume and media controls.  I’m not sure which is more annoying; the lack of controls or the small amount of work it would have taken to add them.  You wouldn’t even have to add them to the keycaps if you didn’t want to; no one would have complained (at least I wouldn’t have).  Again, this isn’t unique to this board or Leopold, but I still think it’s a glaring omission that bears mentioning, even if many boards and manufacturers are guilty.

Luckily, AutoHotKey can fix these layout/mapping issues.

To sum it up: this is a fantastic board, and a wonderful representative of Topre quality and good craftsmanship.  It’s not for everyone, as many will prefer the TKL (or full-size) layout of a RealForce or the pure minimalism of an HHKB.  But for those who like the minimalism plus arrow keys, it’s hard to go wrong with the Leopold FC660C.

img_20161208_105832

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So This Is What It Is

I’m not going to write about all the policy and civil rights minutiae, because other people with a better grasp of it will say things better than I can.  The truth is I’m a white dude, and I don’t know what it feels like to have parts of my body (whether it’s my reproductive organs or skin color) under imminent danger.  I know it sucks, but others know more.

I’m paying heed to a more grand-scale crisis.  It’s bigger than Trump, bigger than Obama, bigger than Hillary.

This election sealed a deal that many already saw coming: my lifetime in this country will be tumultuous, at best.  Rapturous, at worst.

With every passing election year, our differences become more highlighted.  Our society has grown apart in ways thought unfathomable.  “The United States” is a misnomer and practically a sick joke now.  We are anything but united, and that simply isn’t changing while I’m alive.

Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, have only grown further apart.  They may trade minority and majority roles, but moderates are becoming a rare breed.  All this will only lead to more partisanship, less compromise, less activity, and more gridlock.

Nativism has struck back in the most dramatic of ways, taking the presidency and a practical clean sweep of the national government.  Most important about this is that those ideals are now not just fair play in political discussion, but now politically mandated objectives that will serve voting constituencies.  Not all Trump supporters feel this way, but at the very least they’re complicit, and that’s bad enough.  Our racial divide just got even wider.

Assuming the vote totals don’t change dramatically, we have also had a president-elect who lost the popular vote for the second time in 16 years.  This is a direct affront to the core ideal of democracy itself, and considering the amount of change that happened last time (re: zero), I don’t have much hope that we’ll achieve any change this time either.

Hope, or lack of it, is my current mental state.  There’s not much to pin hope on, at this point.  There’s practically no silver lining in this moment.  There are developments that could occur soon, but right now, despair is in season.

There’s so many other thoughts that I have, but they’re very much in their infancy.  We still know so little about Trump’s prospective presidency, or how the Democratic party will respond.  I won’t bother to comment until there are tea leaves to read, at least.

I do have a few thoughts though.  Or rather, some arguments that I simply won’t participate in, because they’re trash arguments.

  • Miss me with your “third party votes did us in” speeches.  This is a bullshit blame-game argument.  It was bullshit with Perot (Perot voters were evenly split or not voting), it was bullshit with Nader (the amount of registered Democrats who voted for Bush in Florida outnumbered Nader votes by a factor of 5), and early exit polls show that at least half of Johnson/Stein votes would have sat at home instead.  I won’t say who to blame yet (since not all the data is out yet, we haven’t even finished counting all the votes), but I’m rather sure blaming third-party votes is a bullshit, short-sighted argument like it always has been.
  • Miss me with your “this was about <single issue or feeling>” statements.  It’s never that simple.  Some of this was good ol’-fashioned racism.  Some of it was nativism.  Some of it was white privilege.  Some of it was a legitimate reaction to worsening economic conditions.  Some of it was poor turnout (if current numbers are accurate).  There’s a lot of reasons.  All are in play.  Don’t be reductive and blame one thing.
  • I hesitated to call Clinton a flat-out “bad candidate.”  I think that was my optimism and general respect for the woman speaking.  But she was a bad candidate.  I don’t really feel there’s any rational argument otherwise.  My opinion doesn’t infer anything about female candidates either; her gender never informed my opinion of her.  But she, specifically, was just a bad candidate.  She was the insider in an election that was about outsiders.  In hindsight that seems really simple, but that’s what it is.
  • You will never hear me utter the words “President Trump.”  This might be combative and contradictory to my words above about divisiveness, but I have to draw a line somewhere.  More people voted for someone else.  He does not represent me.  Fuck all that.
  • I don’t know how long I’m going to lick my wounds after this election, but I do know that there’s only two options I, personally, have.
    • Leave.
    • Fight.
  • I’m probably not leaving.

Some Observations on the HHKB Pro2

This will not be a full-blown review; there are enough of those from people with better perspective and writing skills than I.  This will simply be some observations made while I had an HHKB Pro2, and hopefully someone can glean some meaning from it.

Yeah, I said had an HHKB Pro2.  I don’t have it anymore.  No, it wasn’t stolen.  No, it isn’t broken.  I sent it back.

First, some context on my keyboard purchases and preferences so far:

Purchased boards and their outcomes:

  • SteelSeries 6GV2 (Cherry Reds) – ended up thinking reds were “flimsy,” board was sacrificed to the “learn to desolder/solder” gods (and most importantly, learned that I absolutely hate doing it)
  • Pok3r (Cherry Blues) – used for a long while, loved it, sold a while ago because I actually don’t care for the aluminum case and I swung over to a desire for TKL layouts
  • Leopold FC750R (Cherry Blues) – used for a while, loved it, currently selling because I’ve swung away from TKL layouts
  • CoolerMaster Novatouch (Topre 45G) – First Topre, used for a while, still using it, love it except for the rattle, haven’t decided whether I want to mod it with landing pads or sacrifice it to another Topre board for the MX sliders
  • TADA68 (Gateron Blues) – Love the layout, love the customization ability, will probably be my go-to for home use (gaming, primarily)

Other boards I’ve tested or otherwise experienced:

  • KUL Es-87 (clears, great board, sort of liked clears but not enough)
  • Filco Majestouch 2 (browns, excellent board, don’t like browns, too light/not enough bump)
  • Pok3rs with other switches (browns, see above, and greens, too heavy)
  • RealForce 55g (Phenomenal, but a bit too heavy for what I use Topre for, which is extended periods of typing)

So, my typing needs and preferences can be summed up like so:

  • I adore both tactile and aural feedback, which is why MX Blues have long been a strong preference of mine.
  • Topre is definitely my preference for long-term typing.
  • At least with MX Blues, I prefer plastic cases to aluminum; something to do with the sound of it.  Very hard to describe.
  • My work needs are to be comfortable typing for long periods.
  • My gaming needs are largely unknown, aside form the fact that I don’t like Topre for it.  It would be fine, but not my preference.
  • I still don’t really know my preferred layout.

OK, with that out of the way, here’s my primary impression of the HHKB Pro2:

It’s the best typing experience I’ve had, so far.

That sounds crazy coming from a guy who sent it back, but while I was thoroughly enjoying the layout and the typing experience in general, I found that I just cannot live without a dedicated arrow cluster.

Key foibles with this include the following, for me:

  • Hitting Up to re-run previous command line inputs
  • Using Ctrl+arrows and Ctrl+Shift+arrows to quickly move the cursor or highlight chunks of words

I thought just using the Fn-layer with the arrow cluster would be fine; I was wrong.  In this light, I should update my preferences to include “must have arrow cluster.”  I didn’t know; now I do.

So, here’s my “review”:

The HHKB Pro2 is among the best typing experiences available.  It is a unique brand of Topre, which is already a unique experience to start with.  It is super comfortable for long typing sessions, and while its layout involves some drastic changes, the right person can reap the rewards of what is a phenomenal board.  It doesn’t look like a $225 board at first glance, but it certainly feels like one.

It’s just not for me.

Slightly related news: I have a Leopold FC660C on order.  Review will occur.

Review and Programming Tutorial: TADA68

ROUND ONE: THE REVIEWING

Sometimes, it’s not about the best.  Sometimes, it’s about value.  That’s what the TADA68 brings in spades, more than anything else.  While there are absolutely great things about this keyboard, the most impressive is the fact that I only paid just under $102 USD for it after shipping.  It is a board with no real weaknesses, and that’s not an easy thing to achieve in a hobby with a community that is hyper-obsessive and critical (and rightfully so; we pay a lot of money for this stuff!).

First: there’s already been a great typing demo done by ManOfInterests that shows off the sounds of the TADA68 with Gateron Blue switches.  Mine has Blues as well, so I can’t offer anything besides a convenient link to the video, here.

Second: this keyboard was produced and distributed by OriginativeCo, and is sold on their new kbdist.com (or, “keyboardist”) site.  While I believe the price for the TADA68 has risen a bit from when I bought it (I threw money at my monitor the moment it was announced and available), that’s where you can find it, among other awesome things.

Third: I am in no way affiliated with OriginativeCo, kbdist.com, any of their suppliers, or anyone associated.  I was also not compelled nor compensated to write this review or tutorial.  I am simply another keyboard-obsessive hyper-nerd who has enough free time to do this.

Fourth: A tiny bit of background; I’ve owned a good number of keyboards, but this is my first 65%.  I have owned a Pok3r, which is likely the closest to this form factor.  I’ve mainly dealt in TKLs, but I’ve long wanted to try out a 65-75% form factor, and I jumped at the TADA68 considering the price and the perceived value.

Fifth: Pictures were taken with a Nexus 6, and I am not a photographer.  If you tell me I took crappy pictures, I won’t care.

Okay.  To the unboxing!

IMG_20160831_133202
BLING

I would have never expected any level of bling, but there it is, gold embossing on the lettering.  Keep it classy, Originative.

IMG_20160831_133309
basic.

There it is; that’s all in the box.  Keyboard.  Cable.  That’s all that’s really needed here, to be honest.

(Note for the curious: that’s the bottom of a Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro laptop on the left, and the corner of a Leopold FC750R on the right.)

Now: glamour shots!

I figured I wouldn’t take too many pictures; there’s plenty out there already.  It’s exactly as advertised: black plastic case, off-white/beige PBT keycaps, black USB cable, backlighting, side underlighting.

(Note for the curious: backlighting pictures were taken at my home desk instead of at work, the blue/black cable was from Massdrop a few months ago, and the artisan is a HKP Trooper that I won from them on Reddit a while back, which looks great with the backlighting.)

Also, I figured I wouldn’t do any keyboard science, because Reddit user pyrolovesmoney already did some in his review.

Impressions!

  • The legend alignment on a couple of my keys (G and J to be exact) appears a little low; I don’t really care too much, but something to look out for.  Otherwise, the caps are stellar.  Not the absolute greatest, but very good.
  • This is my first experience with Gateron Blues, and I love love love them.  I love Cherry Blues as well, and these feel like everyone says they do; just a tiny bit smoother.  And yes, I hate my co-workers, so they get the clack attack.
  • I think I might like plastic cases more than aluminum.  I had a Pok3r, and while it was fantastic, with Blue switches I find I like the extra resonance and echo from the clacking you get with a plastic case.  So strange what we find good and bad.
  • The board is quite sturdy overall.  There’s the slightest of flex with the case if you use both hands, but it’s certainly of quality, and will likely stand the test of time.  Everything feels good with the steel mounting plate, and there’s no flex or give at all while typing.
  • The backlighting is wonderful.  There’s tiny bits of bleed-through, but nothing drastic.  The side-lights are barely noticeable unless you look at them, but are still a nice touch.  I was pleasantly surprised at a good amount of brightness and even breathing settings for the lights.  Obviously not super-programmable like a Ducky RGB or anything, but nice in the dark (which is the real use for backlights).
  • The programmability is obviously a huge feature.  I’ll get to that a little later, but the main point here is that it’s fully programmable, and the process is rather simple (once figured out, haha).

So, here’s the verdict: it’s a tremendous value.  Very nice PBT caps, steel mounting plate, a solid plastic case, full programmability, and Gateron switches for the price is a steal.  Chip in a few more bucks and you get dye-sublimated legends on the keys and some pretty backlights.  You also get a form factor which is a good compromise between 60% and TKL; I can’t live without arrows either sometimes.

The only negatives I could find with this board are as follows:

  • The aforementioned issue with the G and J legends.  I haven’t seen this elsewhere, so it’s likely not an issue everywhere.
  • No extra keycaps isn’t a big deal, but I would be overjoyed if Originative offered some degree of extra caps in the future (if only to fit with common customization, such as Ctrl/CapsLock switch, CapsLock-to-Fn, Backspace/Backslash switch, etc), even if they cost extra or whatever.  This is an extreme nitpick, but worth mentioning.
  • Programming issues, which I’ll go into more detail below, but to rattle off the cliffnotes here:
    • The instructions for programming in the online manual are not complete.  Also, the file name for the manual is “TATA-68-Manual-1.pdf”.  Haha, ta-tas.  Blergh.
    • The page for the online configurator is a direct IP address, which makes me wonder whose computer in a basement it’s being hosted on.
    • The page for the online configurator is in Japanese Chinese (though Google Translate takes care of most of this).
    • The online configurator uses Flash (BLEHHHHHHHHH).

None of the above critiques are major demerits to the TADA68’s overall value.  It’s a great board at a fantastic price.  It’s also a wonderful intro to smaller form factors for those who are wary of 60%; you still get arrows!

ROUND TWO: THE PROGRAMMING

So, the only real issue with the TADA68 is the adventure you must go on when reprogramming it.  It’s not hard, but the instructions in the online manual are incomplete, and the configurator page is in Japanese Chinese.  These are easy hurdles to clear, and I’ll help you through them.  Obviously, if OriginativeCo/KBDist revise this, I’ll remove this portion, as they’ll have fixed the problem.

First: the online manual.  It’s just a PDF reviewing the base keymappings, and a guide on how to reprogram.  That part looks like this:

Tadaprogramming
man, that IP address makes me nervous.

The issue is in step 5; it doesn’t tell you how to reach the old one. to replace it.  But wait!  Maybe the configurator page tells you how!

config1.PNG
garbledina.

Oh boy.  OK.  So, if you’re using Google Chrome, just right-click on that page and hit “Translate to English”.  If you’re not using Google Chrome, start using Google Chrome.  Also, see that drop-down on the bottom right?  Change that to “English.”

config2

OK, it’s not perfect, but you can make enough sense of it to figure it out.  At least I did.  And if you can’t, I’ll spell it out for you!

  • Use the Flash applet (uuuggghhh) to customize your layout; this is pretty straight-forward.  Click the key you want to change, then click the function you want to map.  One hiccup: I went to set CapsLock as a Fn key, and it brought up another sub-menu, and that wasn’t translated to English (pictured below).  I picked the second option, then chose layer 1, and that seemed to work.  If you’re mapping multiple layers or want to do stranger things, godspeed.
config3
wtf.
  • Once you’re done with your mappings, hit that big green “Compiler” button.  It’ll prompt to save a file called FLASH.BIN.  I didn’t rename it; I don’t know what happens if you do.  But save it and it’ll download to your default download folder (which is probably downloads, unless you’re a weirdo).
  • Here’s where it gets unclear, but based on my rough translation of Japanese Chinese-to-almost-English above, it’s simple and it goes like this:
    • Press button on the bottom of the board; if you turn it over, it’s on the right side, or under the left side if the board’s right-side up.  This will cause the backlights to start flashing.
    • NOTE: THE KEYBOARD IS UNUSABLE AT THIS POINT.
    • Find your FLASH.BIN file that you downloaded and copy it.
    • You may have noticed that when you pushed the button, a new drive will have connected to your PC; that’s the TADA68’s storage.  If you open it, there’s a FLASH.BIN file in there.  Oh.
    • Great idea, thanks to anonymous commenter: create a copy of the original FLASH.BIN file so you’ll always have a copy, just in case.
    • Delete that file.  Paste your new FLASH.BIN file in its place.
      • (Note: if you just try to paste over it, you’ll get a warning that there isn’t enough space for the file operation.  You have to delete it.  I made the leap of faith, you can too.)
    • Press the ESC key; this will restart the TADA68 (literally takes a second), and your new mappings should be live.

See?  Very simple, but the included instructions weren’t sufficient.  Hopefully that gets fixed eventually.

Now, just for shits and/or giggles, here’s the default layouts, then my layouts for those who are curious:

DEFAULTS

defaultTADA
default layer 0
defaultTADA1
default layer 1

MINE

Layer0
my layer 0
Layer 1
my layer 1

My changelog, from defaults:

  • Layer 0
    • Changed Esc/~ to just Esc (having Esc/~ messes with my ability to use the Ctrl-Shift-Esc shortcut, which is the default shortcut for Windows Task Manager, which I use on an hourly basis at work)
    • Changed CapsLock to Fn (Layer 1)
  • Layer 1
    • Changed LEDDown, LEDUp, LEDPower to Fn+,./ (seems more natural to put them towards the edge of the 1u keys)
    • Added arrow cluster as Fn+ijkl (never decided whether I like Fn+wasd or Fn+ijkl better for arrows, will probably change the loser to mouse controls)
    • Changed Home and End to Fn+PgUpPgDn (seems more natural)
    • Replaced mouse controls with media controls
    • Added an extra play/pause as Fn+f (so I can easily reach pause while gaming)
    • Changed volume controls to Fn+zxc (this make mute eminently reachable)
    • Changed Insert to Fn+Del
    • Added Pause/Break as Fn+` (I like this because Win+PauseBrk is the Windows shortcut for the System Information window, and I use that a bunch)
    • Added PrtScr as Fn+p (just in case I need it)

(Edit: corrected original language; configurator page is in Chinese, not Japanese.  Props to Reddit user Spidelytwang for letting me know!)

This Post is a Bummer

I wrote a big old blog post about the election and Sanders and Clinton and Trump.  I was about 80% through with it when I checked Twitter and learned of the Orlando massacre.  Then I cried for a while.  Did some grief-research, some grief-tweeting.  Some grief-eating.  Here’s a Storify of it if you’re curious.

Despite my best efforts, I did end up having to leave my apartment, to pick up my diabetes medication.  I also got more cigarettes, some cheese/caramel popcorn, some beef jerky, and pepperocini-flavored potato chips that may be the best or worst thing ever.  My diet’s been rather good lately, but today not so much.

Now I’m thinking about all this crap.  Reading comments, tweets, facebook, the news stories.  I watched the president speak when he clearly didn’t want to, since he’s made this same speech about a million times, through no direct fault of his own.

I think about lobbyists.

I think about how many people (over half!) who are against an assault rifles ban, even though it makes all the sense in the world.

I think about how many people are willingly supporting a reality television star businessman who has built his campaign on nativism, bigotry, and xenophobia.

I think about how political discourse in this country is a fool’s errand.  There are some moderate/independent/centrist people who can be convinced one way or another, but a large swath of our electorate is filled with people that won’t even listen to the other side, comfortable in their echo chambers, reinforcing their flawed thought process.

I think about how many people think the above paragraph is about their opposition, when in reality all sides are guilty of this.

I think about the history of division and marginalization in this country, and how while things are better, most don’t recognize the lasting and current problems that plague our society.

I think about the crippling lack of empathy that we as a society have for each other.

I think about whether I even want to live in this country anymore.

I think about how in this election cycle, voice has been given to millions and millions of people who are participatory or at best tolerant of outright bigotry.

I think about how those voices, now awoken and accepted in political discourse, are a reality we have to face, because they’re probably not going to be quiet anymore.

I think about how awful, how callous, how insensitive we are in the face of tragedy.

I think about how well-meaning, thoughtful people still fail miserably at understanding their opposition’s feelings, only focusing on effects instead of causes, on statements instead of motivations.

I think about how this is all going to change.  Specifically, how it might be getting worse.

 

p.s. the pepperocini chips were good.

A Letter to Lenovo: Your Bloatware Brings My Piss to a Boil

(Note: before I get more complaints from sysadmins saying “WHY AREN’T YOU RE-IMAGING”, this is for a client, an imaging solution is on their roadmap, but for now they’re setting up their own laptops, so this is the hand I’m dealt.  Thanks for the advice, but I am aware.)

Dear Lenovo,

I understand why bloatware exists.  You get paid to put it on there more often than not, or you think you’re offering the consumer something useful while keeping the name Lenovo in front of their eyes.  In some rare cases it offers some level of value.  Your System Center application, when it doesn’t decide to crash or fail to connect to Lenovo servers, offers an easy portal to updating drivers and firmware on your laptops.  The Lenovo Power tray icon appears to be something some users think “looks nice.”  And I’m pretty sure I can easily blame poor performance on your “Lenovo Applications”, mainly because they are often the cause of said poor performance.

All these tricks are well and fun on consumer-level hardware.  The whole Superfish thing?  That’s a practically unforgivable affront to user privacy and security, but the good news is that you only did that on your consumer-level products.  The beloved Thinkpad line was left untouched, much to the relief of systems administrators everywhere.  You may have spewed bile and shit all over Average Joe Laptop User, but at least the business sector was spared your shoddy, ill-advised treatment.

Now, I happen to be a fan of your products, from a hardware quality perspective.  Lenovo laptops often have best-in-class keyboards and reasonably usable trackpads.  The docking stations have also proven to be reliable and simple.  Thinkpads, specifically, are sturdy and durable.

Your support experience, while not as good as Dell’s, is still light-years ahead of Hewlett-Packard, (though that’s not a terribly difficult hurdle to clear).  So there’s that.  Good-ish job.

Today, however, I question your practices.  While it concerns a seemingly innocuous action, it is representative of a larger disregard for your customers.  Specifically, your business customers.

I had been working on a seriously simple task: creating a domain-wide group policy to force a specific desktop wallpaper.  This is a very basic operation: create the policy, point the configuration to the image I want to set, deploy the policy where I want, wait for things to update and propagate.  This was supposed to be a 5-minute policy creation, then a check-up the next day to make sure it worked.

Your built-in software decided to override my policy.  After hearing reports that laptops weren’t receiving the wallpaper update, I had to verify other more likely possibilities (are they on the wireless network, have they received the group policy update, etc).

I had to drive on-site to assess the issue, as all my testing in the server farm had proven my policy worked.  What I witnessed was your software rubbing shit in my administration.  Upon login, the correct, policy-set wallpaper appeared, only to be changed to the annoying blue “Think” wallpaper about 10 seconds later.

To confirm, I disabled all of your bullshit software in startup, rebooted, and tested.  Oh, look, my system administration worked, now that your software had been disabled.  Thanks.

Now, this is wallpaper.  No big deal, right?  Well, you’re right.  It isn’t a big deal.  That’s why you should not fuck with it.  You should especially not fuck with it if I have made a domain-wide policy dictating what it should be, only to be overridden by who-the-hell-knows-whatever Lenovo Jerkoff Bloatware HD software that is only on the laptop because you put it there, because you think you’re smart.

You’re not smart.  This is an egregiously dumb thing to do, because now I question your integrity when it comes to business.  I now have to advise to every customer I have that getting a Lenovo laptop will require additional setup time, because I have to scrub your viruses in disguise from the hard drive.  I’ll tell them that it’s for their own good, because your built-in software cannot be trusted, and has a lengthy track record proving it.

It’s not a great idea to piss in an administrator’s cereal.  Mainly because we can (and should) tell our clients that they should just go get a fucking Dell instead.

Understanding the State of the Union

Tumultuous times, indeed.  America’s political parties are both under a heavy state of duress, with non-establishment candidates shaping the narrative of this election cycle.  As of this writing almost eleven million people have voted for Donald J. Trump in the Republican primary, which has resulted in him being the presumptive nominee.  Bernie Sanders, while not appearing to be in a position to win, has created far more noise than anyone had anticipated.  As of this writing around nine million people have voted for him in the Democratic primary.

While the popular vote totals are rarely referenced or brought up in America (since they technically don’t count; that’s another conversation for another time), I feel they are very important in order to provide some context to what is happening in this country right now.

Obviously, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are extremely dissimilar candidates, philosophically.  Sanders self-identifies as a democratic socialist, while Trump is a wild card that appears to be aligning with most traditional Republican positions.  However, one common thread they share, as I’ve discussed here before, is that they’re both anti-establishment.  Their existence and success is based completely on the fact that large portions of their respective parties have had enough of the status quo, for varying reasons.

Now, it’s real easy for people on any side to belittle supporters of either candidate.  In Trump’s case, his nativist slant and acerbic, acidic discourse doesn’t bode well for someone who’s supposed to be considered the Leader of the Free World.  Regarding Sanders, it’s easy to point out that a number of his stated goals are extremely unlikely to occur in an American governmental system that is engineered to resist drastic change, by design.

For supporters of both, there’s a large backlash that is trying to tell them they’re crazy, that they’re supporting a candidate that can’t deliver what they’re promising.  They’re being told that they’re not seeing the bigger picture, that they’re not considering all the issues, that they’re not understanding why they’re wrong.

The point I think we need to understand is this: more than twenty million people have case a primary ballot for a non-establishment candidate, and we’re not finished.  That is a significant number of people; it’s more than 40% of people who cast a primary vote among both parties.

Whether anyone likes it or not, at least twenty million people are fed the fuck up with something.  Whether it’s immigrants, corporate welfare, regressive trade policies, or punitive tuition cost, people are pissed.  More people are pissed than there has been in quite a long time.

All this anger and resentment didn’t come out of nowhere.  There’s a great number of reasons for it, mainly because there are a great number of reasons for the anger and resentment.  Corporate hegemony, an inconsistent and weak economy, the continuing regression of the middle class caused by middling wages and rising costs of living, the overall corruption of our government (and how obvious it is at this point).  Lots of these causes have simmered and boiled over the last few decades, and now we’re at a point where shit happens.

This is the bed we made.  This is the country we live in.  This should not be surprising.

If your national media is allowed to focus its efforts on what’s good for money instead on what’s good for news, what you get is a national media that doesn’t inform the public sufficiently, or at worst misinforms the public with outright lies or out-of-context facts that are meaningless.  We could have cared, but we didn’t.  We ate it up and asked for more.

If we don’t speak up when the banks are allowed to buy each other and become too big to fail, then we run the risk of those banks making bad deals and needing a bailout.  We could have cared, but we didn’t.  We gave them that money and hoped they won’t do it again.

If we thought it was wrong for our government to lie to us so they could rationalize a war, we could have said something, demanded an impeachment, demanded to hold those responsible culpable.  We could have cared, but we didn’t.  We sent our sons and daughters and hoped it would be worth it.

If we thought that politicians and government officials were corrupt, we could have said something.  We could demand term limits, we could disallow corporate donations to campaigns.  We could have cared, but we didn’t.  We watched our government become bought, and hoped it would work out.

Now, we’re caring.  All this fire and anger is good for us.  There’s arguments about whether the outcome of all this is going to be positive, but I have some faith.  And I don’t have faith in much.

The good news is that throughout history, when people finally get pissed and passionate about politics, things change.  Either we get so angry that we revolt, or the systems will change to serve the new demands.  One thing is certain: something will change.  It’s usually for the better, in the end.

I feel like I need to make a note and underline it here: I am not supporting Trump as President.  My primary vote went to Bernie Sanders, and my general election vote will likely go to Hillary Clinton.  In a lot of contexts though, it won’t matter who’s President.  The principal issues with our country and our economy are beyond the President’s power anyways.  The Senate and the House, however, will react, and whoever the President is will too.  They’ll have to.

The long-standing pillars of our democracy, the Democrat and Republican parties, will change.  To resist it is to invite death; that is a universal truth that cannot be avoided.  People have spoken, they will continue to speak until they are made whole.

As crazy and weird as it looks right now, this is democracy in action.